New York-based Australian producer/songwriter Sir Winston shares his favourite tips & tricks in the studio and presents his new single, ‘Hollywood Hills’
Be prepared. Time in the studio is precious. There are so many variables that come in to play so I like to be as prepared as possible. I have lots of early discussions with the team, a game plan allocating time to where the most work needs to be done. I like to spend the most time on guitars but my vocal normally needs the most time. Sometimes we get stuck on an idea and I like to write in the studio too, but time runs so fast – so someone needs to have at least one eye on the clock.
Reference tracks. I often have a bunch of reference tracks in a playlist on hand so that I can easily pull up a reference whether it be a sound, a part or just a generally vibe of a track. It is much easier to listen to an example of something then it is to explain it. So having a playlist of references handy saves time and can make things easier.
Stay in the moment – Whilst time can be limited I think it’s really important to spend as much time as possible on getting the perfect sound and staying in that moment. I love to experiment – I like to push it and go for sounds and ideas as far as I can. Woking with a lot of vintage gear often means more time spent on the sounds. Don’t rush it. Regret on recordings is painful – nothing worse really. I like having people around when I’m tracking and recording but not when I’m mixing. It’s a different kind of focus. But creating those magic moments are just the best, worthy pursuits!
Listen and trust – The reality of the recording process is that you are working with others – you can’t do it on your own. The relationships with your producer and engineer are really important – that develop over time and need to be nurtured. There is a lot of trust involved. Finding someone you trust who you do great work with is such a blessing and it’s rare to have both a musical connection and a great working relationship that is productive. You have to respect their opinion and trust their judgment and be prepared to listen. Find people to work with who you respect and have faith in. Who you will listen to and be comfortable taking their advice.
Take a break The recording process is a sacred process for me and I love it so much – but shit happens – and I try to remember that just by being there we are making progress. Silence is the canvas – and there is a lot going on and a lot of focus needed and things get loud and often complicated. Noise make you tired as does the focus. I’m often totally exhausted after a session. Taking regular breaks is really important. Especially after working on the same thing for some time – I take a break and come back and listen before moving on or adding layers. A walk around the block – grab a coffee, sit in the park or whatever. I need to give me ears and focus a legit break. I listen to no music, no phone calls – I clear the mind. Stretch – breathe deep – meditate even – get out of the studio often during a session. Break it up.
Trusted Jambox Monitor
When mixing I like to have a trusted monitor that I am familiar with that I can listen to passes on. I’ve had a small SONY jambox that I take to sessions with me for a few years now – I know how it sounds, its very familiar to me and Its proven to be very helpful listening back to tracks on speakers I know and trust. Some people like to go out to their car or listen later when back at home – but having a portable jambox that you listen to a lot of music on is really handy and valuable when mixing at the studio.